Saturday, August 18, 2012

'ParaNorman' (2012)

The peaceful New England town of Blithe Hollow is nearing the 300th anniversary of its crowning achievement: executing Agatha Prenderghast (Jodelle Ferland), a witch. It is ingrained in the townspeople and they revel in the celebration. There are witch-named stores down Main Street, banners strewn across town announcing the impending celebration, and a hideous statue of the crone outside the town hall. The school is putting on a play/musical about the event, written, produced, and directed by an overly enthusiastic drama teacher (Alex Borstein) who wants her cast to "inhabit the role".
Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee), the loner/social outcast just doesn't seem to care. But Norman can see and talk to ghosts. He also has a love for zombie/horror films, as evidenced by his numerous posters, action figures, alarm clock, and toothbrush. But nobody gets or is willing to understand Norman. His parents, more his dad (Jeff Garlin) than his mom (Leslie Mann), want him to stop talking to dead people. His cheerleader sister (Anna Kendrick) is too involved in the high school world of boys, cheerleading, gossip, and nail-painting to care. His dead grandma (Elaine Stritch) is sticking around because her unfinished business is to care for Norman, as they were close in life, and because she would miss aspects of the material world. Norman's only friend is Neil (Tyler Albrizzi), the token chubby kid who has oddly high self-esteem. However, it comes down to Norman to save the day when his estranged and sickly uncle (John Goodman) bestows upon him the mission to save the town from the return of Agatha and the seven townspeople she cursed.
Laika's second stop-motion feature follows Coraline, their 2009 feature-length debut, also employs a 3D printer to create the character faces, a first for stop-motion. It's also a first for the directing team of Sam Fell (previously directed The Tale of Despereaux and Flushed Away, among others) and Chris Butler (directorial debut; also wrote the script). While the film was shot in 3D, which adds depth and some pop-out gags, I'd advise go early for lower 3D ticket prices, or just go 2D.
The film, while light on plot, is carried along by the exploration of fear and what it does to people. There are also a handful of horror references and numerous bits of dialog that, while going over the heads of the younger audience, are sure to amuse the older crowd.

Rating: A-/9 out of 10 stars

Monday, August 13, 2012

11 Rebuttals to Hollis Thomases's Column

I'm occasionally on LinkedIn, whether it's to network or apply for jobs. I rarely follow links to articles, but I was drawn to an article in particular with the hook "Don't Put An Intern In Charge". So I clicked through and read through the column, which you can find here. Long story short, Hollis Thomases, the column writer, listed eleven reasons why not to hire a college graduate (around 22 or 23 years of age) to run social media positions. I didn't quite care for these reasons, so I began to brew this rebuttal.
Mrs. Thomases starts off with "Pardon the generalization: I don't mean to attack 23-year-olds specifically. Nor do I believe there are no young people capable of managing a business's social-media responsibilities." Why would you start off like that? You haven't even gotten to the meat of the column yet and you're already saying "I'm going after 23-year-olds and generalizing the entire age bracket, regardless of experience." Why would you go on to rag on college graduates with legitimate social media experience by lumping them in with college graduates who use Twitter for perpetuating the "YOLO" hashtag, among other things?
Anyways, she goes on to say that common sense shouldn't go out the window when hiring recent graduates or relatives because "they're really good on Facebook." Does that mean they rake in major dough on Farmville? Or constantly post redundant memes or pointless statuses? Using Facebook as such doesn't mean one is really good at it. It means that they know how to waste time on it and not use it for maintaining connections and such, but Facebook is a double-edged sword in that manner.
But to get to the list ...
1) "They're not mature enough.": Mrs. Thomases's reasoning is that modern youth feel that they haven't reached adulthood until their late 20s or early 20s, so they'd "rather explore who they are and how they can transform their lives." I've done some exploring of who I am during my high school and college career, so I'm somewhat satisfied. Sure, there are things I haven't tried yet, like skydiving, getting punch-drunk wasted and puking my guts out, and marathoning television shows, but those things can wait. Especially getting wasted. I'm not too experienced in the ways of alcohol and it's not on my list of things to gain experience in at this point in time.
2) "They may be focused on their own social-media activity.": The question posed here is "Will you need to be monitoring the person?" Okay, I'll admit it. When I interned with my university's Media and PR office, I checked Facebook and my university mail here and there. My university e-mail checking wasn't a problem and I wasn't checking Facebook every minute of every day, but my supervisor just made a mention during one of the evaluations. I took his words to heart and cut down on checking while at editing and rendering and publishing. It helped that I had books to read. Facebook could wait. And when the time comes that I join the creative media workforce (which will hopefully be soon), my Droid shall stay in my pocket, unless I'm on break or some urgent text or call comes in.
3) "They may not have the same etiquette -- or experience.": Mrs. Thomases feels that supervisors need to "make sure you check out the substance of his or her updates. You need to make sure your posts reflect your brand." Wouldn't the hiring staff test the new hiree during the interview process by asking him or her to draft a few sample brand-related posts to test the new hiree? Or would not all companies do that?
4) "You can't control their friends.": Or if said friends post inappropriate content on the company social-media accounts ... or that's Hollis's reasoning, anyways. True, but surely, the new hires would be smart enough to remind their close friends to keep things civil or to only talk work in person over food or drinks and not share things on company social media pages, right?
5) "No class can replace on-the-job training.": True, but if someone has some experience through a class that went hand-in-hand with their media internship, wouldn't that give them a leg up? Or what about common sense, too? I had to take a once-a-week seminar in addition to my internship and I had to keep regular journals about things I learned or experienced on the job, as well as present two slideshows dealing with the impact of PR. The seminar class helped bolster my PR/social media knowledge and I consider the class and the internship the start of on-the-job training, even if it was just a one-semester internship and class.
6) "They may not understand your business.": Okay, let's assume that the applicants haven't researched the company before applying and interviewing and they've somehow landed a position. What do you as their supervisor do? Make sure they get a feel for how the company runs! Have them read through company handbooks and socialize around the office during a probationary period before the real work starts! Help them to understand what they're pushing through social media. And don't assume that every new young hire is slow to catch on.
7) "Communication skills are critical.": Evaluate their writing skills when first considering so you don't hire someone who writes/posts/speaks in LOLCats. Trust an English major and an opinion columnist.
8) "Humor is a tricky business.": True, not everyone has the same sense of humor. Not everyone finds Vonnegut funny. Some jokes could be too soon after some major event. What's workplace-appropriate humor? Surely not The Aristocrats! But at least make sure the new hires have some idea before setting them loose to spread LOLs.
9) "Social-media savvy is not the same as technical savvy.": Should the new hires have some idea of the ins and outs of social media managing, not just using Twitter/Facebook/Google+ like a wiz? Yes.
10) "Social-media management can become crisis management.": If someone Tweets or posts something unbecoming of the company image, what would the reaction of the new hire be? Start a flame war with "Hey, why r u h8ing on our product?"? Calmly respond with "We're sorry you didn't care for *insert product name*, but if you message/DM/e-mail us with the necessary information, we'll see to it that you're properly reimbursed," or something to that effect? Go with calm and level-headed over rushing to ignite a social-media storm. It's common sense.
11) "You need to keep the keys.": So, keep the new hire on a bit of a leash as a way of maintaining trust and having access to social media accounts? Wouldn't these accounts have been set up already, if you're a forward-thinking company? Probably. Wouldn't you already have the passwords? Probably.
Looking over what I've written up, the main thing that I'm seeing is that when hiring recent graduates for social media positions, caution is needed. So while Mrs. Thomases's column/article was on the harsher generalizing side, the point of using caution when hiring is a good one, nonetheless. Long story short, this current generation is more suited for social media positions, but if they know how to use the tools wisely, professionally, what have you, go ahead and hire them.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

On Being Negligent (and James Bond)

My watch tells me that it's August 1st. So does my Droid. And my iHome. And my laptop. Which means it has been about a month and a half since I last posted something, something being the Canadian Rockies recaps. So I've been neglectful. It happens.
If there's anything that I don't feel is worthy of being posted up here, it goes on my Tumblr ... which tends to happen a lot. Like my post this morning about frustrations, some being with my camp job. Sure, it's not what I was hoping to do right out of college, but it's a job and a job is a job, so I'm dealing with it for another week and a half-ish. Maybe "dealing with it" isn't the best turn of phrase ... more like "working through it".
Don't get me wrong, I'm having a good time with the kids, even if they don't always listen and behave, but then again, they're going into the first grade (except for one kid in the group who is a little older ... paperwork mistake). At least some of them are restoring my hope in the future generations. One kid (the slightly older one) is into Doctor Who, thanks to his mom and sister watching episodes at home. Another expressed interest in Paranorman after seeing my phone background on the bus ride back to camp today. I questioned him a little further and learned that he's seen some of Coraline and is looking to see the film again. I suggested that he read the novella and he took the suggestion well, even asking if I could take the book out of the library for him. I chuckled and said that he could check it out himself.
Anyways, I've been keeping busy in the last month and a half or so, even though I started working on the first Monday of July. This keeping busy has included watching a number of movies (some on DVD, some in theaters), TV on DVD (like Breaking Bad and The Hour), TV on TV (namely Eureka, Warehouse 13, and some cooking shows ... and Gravity Falls), and Bond novels. Lots and lots of Bond novels. The idea for a Bondathon struck me while I was on the aforementioned vacation with the family, so I compiled a list of all the novels and the films and started placing holds through the library's e-catalog. I planned to watch the films in chronological order and read the novels they were adapted from ... which has resulted in a bit of confusion, as the novels I've read so far (Doctor No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, and (most recently) Live and Let Die) have been read out of order. It's taken a little getting used to, but it's still enlightening. And what is a marathon without commentaries on said novels and films? Instead of a weekly blog post write-up, I decided to review the films and novels in a Books Vs. Movies vlog format.

The videos have been on the lengthy side (7.5 to 8.25 minutes), but I would definitely say they're worth it if you want a Bond refresher leading up to the release of Skyfall in November. And speaking of Skyfall, I might as well link the new trailer. I can't tell much about Bardem's character of Silva, but I'm quite excited to see the return of Q, the appearance of Ralph Fiennes, the globe-hopping, the action sequences, and Craig as Bond. So, without further ado, enjoy the new trailer.

Anyways, at this rate, I'll probably be writing again in mid to late September, but it'll probably be sooner as I have one or two items in the pipeline ... not counting the few Things I'm working on. You might hear more about these Things in the coming weeks/months. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some applications to get back to ... along with filming this week's Bondathon video, reading, and listening to "Wait Wait".